ACCC takes on Google in court

One of the big tech news stories recently was the ACCCs decision to take search giant Google to court.

ACCC alleges that Google misled consumers when it failed to inform consumers, without their consent, that it was combining personal information in consumers’ Google accounts.

ACCC alleges that Google wasn’t upfront about the changes it made a few years back regarding harvesting of users’ data. Prior to 2016, Google only tracked user activity on its own sites like Google Search and YouTube. Thanks to its ownership of DoubleClick, it could expand its ability to more directly track users across most of their web activity.

Google refutes the allegations, saying it played within the letter of the law. Presuming the ACCC gains a victory, it could lead to more disclosure on individual web sites. This will be similar to the way websites work in the EU. When travelling through the EU, you will have quickly realised when online many sites require an explicit acceptance of tracking cookies. This is due to an EU law called the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation).

Australia currently doesn’t have a GDPR equivalent, but this could be a slow first step towards that kind of transparency.